Catholic Education South Australia
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08 Sep 2023
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An ‘egg-citing’ time for playgroups thanks to student illustrators

It has been a very 'egg-citing' start to Term 3 for Catholic Education SA's supported playgroups thanks to a new literacy project that includes a golden speckled egg and a book illustrated by primary school students.

The newest project of the Paint Playgroups REaD initiative – the ‘Egg and Mascot Project’– has been rolled out across the 61 Supported Playgroups in Catholic Education (SPiCE) that currently support over 1,900 children and 1,600 families across South Australia.

Each of the playgroups, which cater for children aged birth-five, have celebrated the arrival of their Paint Playgroups REaD Egg, which will ‘grow’ throughout the term as children and families sing, talk, rhyme, dance and play together.

The growing eggs aim to symbolise and share with playgroup families the important message of how we can literally 'grow’ children's brains by singing, reading, rhyming and playing with them every day from birth.

Children have helped to build nests for their eggs and sing and dance with them - with one playgroup even planning on taking their egg out on a picnic ahead of the eggs ‘hatching’ and enjoying a visit from the Paint Playgroups REaD Mascot later this term.

A book has been created as part of the project titled ‘The Unexpected Arrival of the Golden Speckled Egg’, telling the story of how an ‘unexpected golden speckled egg’ arrives at playgroup one day.   

The book, already read by over 2,000 people and set to be registered in the State and National Library, was illustrated by the very talented Year 6 Art Leaders from McAuley Community School, Hove.  

Alessia, Denis, Judd and Nadia worked with Catholic Education SA’s Early Years Consultant Emily Bowden over three sessions to craft their illustrations.

“I love little kids and hearing that we were making a book for them made me even more excited,” said Alessia.

“I really enjoy sitting in my room sketching so showing my drawings to the world was my dream come true. It means a lot to me that I got a chance to show my drawings to all the younger learners and I hope that these sketches lighten up their day and inspire them to draw their own.”

“The best part for me was making children’s imaginations grow and giving them happy memories and excitement,” said Denis.

Judd said he felt excited and nervous to be involved in the project. “Nervous because of how big it would be and how many people would see it and excited because I have helped little kids evolve and learn to read and write, it was a very fun experience.”

“I was really happy and a little bit nervous too,” said Nadia. “The best part for me was that we got to know each other, and got to use our imaginations to draw whatever we wanted.”

The egg project follows the success of Paint Playgroup REaD’s ‘Book Swap Box’ project that saw each supported playgroup provided with a box filled with donated books for families to access and take home each week when they come to playgroup – to ensure every child has access to books.

“Research shows that our brains do most of their critical development in the first three years of life and that every time we read, talk, sing, and rhyme with children, brain connections grow, and foundations for learning are built,” said Emily Bowden, Early Years Consultant, Catholic Education South Australia.

Emily said that on International Literacy Day on September 8 we are reminded of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.

“It is well known that if children start school without early literacy skills, no matter how good the teaching, these initial cognitive gaps increase as children go through school.

“That’s why it is crucial that opportunities are provided for children to be read, talked and sung to within the first 3 years of life. It gives them the best possible opportunities to build strong literacy foundations that set them up for success once they are at school.”

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